Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Keep em or kick em to the curb

The new coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers has a busy schedule, studying the team’s current roster, readying for the draft and settling itself in Pittsburgh.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to help them out a little by breaking down the team’s free agents and whether they fit into the team’s future plans or should be allowed to look for work elsewhere.

First up on our list is safety Tyrone Carter, an unrestricted free agent.

At 5-8, 195 pounds, Carter lacks the ideal size you’d like to have in an NFL safety. But the 29-year-old Carter has shown that he doesn’t shy away from throwing his body around.

He also doesn’t have great speed and isn’t a big playmaker, as his three career interceptions would attest.

But should the Steelers give the little guy a new contract or should they let him walk?

With veteran Mike Logan expected to retire, Carter’s departure would leave the Steelers with just three experienced safeties on their roster. And with 34 career starts under his belt - including three in 2006 – Carter is just the kind of player this team needs. He’s unselfish and accepts his role with this team as a backup, which will allow Anthony Smith and Ryan Clark to battle for the starting free safety position in training camp.

Carter is also smart enough that he not only knows the free safety’s responsibilities, but those of the strong safety as well. He’s also experienced playing the cover-2 that new head coach Mike Tomlin will eventually shift the team to, having played for Herm Edwards with the Jets before joining the Steelers.

Thus, keeping Carter around should be one of the team’s offseason priorities, though they shouldn’t overpay for his services. It’s unlikely he’ll land a starting job somewhere else, but he’s just the kind of backup that good teams need on the bench waiting in the wings if a starter goes down.

Verdict: A Keeper.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mozes at Senior Bowl

Here's what the scouts are saying about Washington-native Dan Mozes at the Senior Bowl practices this week:

Dan Mozes OL West Virginia 602 3/8 300 31 1/2 vertical 10 standing long jump
Weigh-In Notes: Solid but room for improvement.

Monday Practice Notes: Battles off the ball with big, strong hands. Sets up very well after the snap, and can be a primary blocker with his speed. Did have trouble with DTs swimming over him.
Tuesday Practice Notes: Mozes was unfortunately the first lineman whom got thrown around like a rag doll on a couple of occasions. He was not strong at the point today and could not hold his ground very well. One of his problems as seen is his inability to shoot his hands which does not help his situation. Not only played his traditional center spot, but some action at guard this morning.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Updated odds

Updated coaching odds:

Russ Grimm (2-1) Grimm is still the favorite. The Steelers denied Arizona the opportunity to speak to wide receivers coach Bruce Arians this week. If Grimm gets the job, Arians would be his offensive coordiantor.

Mike Tomlin (6-1) At 34, Tomlin is the youngest of the Steelers' three finalists. He has impressed with his demeanor and public personna. But he's also only been a coordinator for one year. Is he ready yet?

Ron Rivera (8-1) If the Bears beat New Orleans Sunday, Rivera's chances may get even worse since the Steelers would have to wait two more weeks to talk to him. They are patient, but will they be that patient. If the Bears lose and their defense looks bad, it could also affect how he is viewed. It's almost a no-win situation.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Odds on the new coach

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but between the holidays, th coaching search and everything else, it's been very busy. Also, much of my stuff in the paper about the coaching searchg is blog-type stuff anyway, so that's where the inside info has been appearing.

Bill Cowher hadn’t yet held his final press conference Friday to announce his resignation when I received an e-mail telling me the odds on who the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers would be.

But what does Vegas really know about it? Here’s a look at the leading candidates for the job and the odds I'm giving them to be the man to lead the Steelers for the next decade.

Russ Grimm (Odds, 2-1) The Steelers offensive line/assistant head coach has the respect of the players that only a player who has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame the past couple of year can command. They like him, they listen to him. Don’t underestimate that in this process. Grimm is also a native of nearby Scottdale and attended the University of Pittsburgh, so he has local ties as well. It’s a tough call between Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt at this point, but I’d give Grimm a slight lead.

Ken Whisenhunt (Odds, 5-2) Whisenhunt is an outstanding communicator and a good Xs and Os guy. Like Grimm, he also has the respect of the players, but he isn’t quite as fiery as Grimm. Interestingly enough, his candidacy for every other open coaching position - save Oakland - could hurt him in Pittsburgh. If Whisenhunt is offered a job elsewhere before the Steelers are ready to make a hire, he may take the sure thing rather than a maybe from the Steelers.

Ron Rivera (Odds, 5-1) Rivera is an up-and-comer, no doubt about it. And his background as an analyst for the Bears radio broadcasts before he got into coaching shows that he knows how to communicate. But is he the right man for this job? The Steelers likely don’t want to break up their current staff too much and Rivera most certainly would want to bring some of his own people in.

Mike Tomlin (Odds, 7-1) Tomlin, at 34, is likely the youngest person the Steelers will interview and is the same age Cowher was when he took over for Chuck Noll in 1992. But he’s only been a coordinator for one season, so he likely needs a little more time at his current post before he’s ready to step into the big chair. But you can bet the fact the Steelers interviewed him means that he’s viewed as a solid up-and-comer in NFL circles. He’ll be a head coach in the next three seasons barring a total meltdown in Minnesota.

Kirk Ferentz (Odds, 10-1) Ferentz has consistently said that he is not interested in the Steelers job and the Steelers won’t beg him to talk like Alabama did with Nick Saban. It’s unlikely Ferentz will ever be a viable candidate.

Cam Cameron (Odds, 12-1) The offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers has head coaching experience in college and has plenty of NFL experience as well. But he’d likely want to revamp the offense and that could create havoc with Ben Roethlisberger. But he'll be a hot candidate when the Chargers win this year's Super Bowl.

Field (Odds, 15-1) Chances are, the leading candidate is somebody the Steelers will speak to this week, with Grimm and Whisenhunt the obvious frontrunners. But somebody else could sneak into this pack and we’ll have to update our odds.

Bill Cowher (Odds, 1 million-1) What are the chances that Cowher has a change of heart and decides this week he made a mistake? None. And Cowher will never again work for the organization. He cut his ties when he resigned and what’s done is done.